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API’s annual report offers a plan to bolster investment in oil and gas projects and streamline the permitting process even as the White House prioritizes renewable energy sources.

The hints from the White House could not have been much of a surprise to API executives, but leaders of the largest oil and gas trade association still expressed exasperation over treatment of their members’ work — and favoritism toward renewables.

“Just the disparate treatment of oil and natural gas projects to renewables with respect to the overall GHG [greenhouse gas] impacts across the value chain—not just downstream but across the value chain,” Frank Macchiarola, API’s senior vice president for policy, economics and regulatory affairs, said during a media call on Jan. 11.

The call was to discuss API’s annual State of American Energy report, which argued for a shift in policy priorities to support investment in the domestic oil and natural gas industry.

The prime takeaway from API’s request for interim guidance from the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) was that President Joe Biden’s administration is seeking to expand the reach of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

“NEPA is one of the most important environmental statutes that, historically, started out as a very small statute that has grown, through the [environmental impact statement and environmental assessment] process, to impede critical energy infrastructure for years,” Macchiarola said. “Now, CEQ is seeking to expand the reach of NEPA when we should be limiting the expansion of NEPA and moving projects along.”

Setting priorities

Pushing back on expanding regulations is what API’s members expect from the trade group, Emily Easley, CEO of NOVUS Energy Advisors, told Hart Energy. But of greater importance is tracking how the rollout of legislation such as the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law affects the industry. Another point of focus? Permitting reform.

“There’s no way that there will be one standardized package for infrastructure projects,” Easley said. “There are regional issues, so it can’t be a one-size-fits-all.”

For example, on the East Coast, delays in pipeline permitting have dogged the industry for years. Citing the problem in a report won’t push Congress to flip the switch in the year or so left to legislate before the 2024 campaigns kick in.

“I think that’s why they were so hopeful about [Sen. Joe Manchin] bringing that pipeline [permitting reform] bill, but I don’t think Manchin has any political currency anymore,” she said.

Read the full article published on Hart Energy here.